Diversity report shows Decatur getting whiter

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt August 5, 2014
A mural showing what Decatur strives to be.

Mural outside of the Oakhurst Market in Decatur, Ga.

There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence of the growth in Decatur’s white population and decline in black population, but a soon-to-be-released report could provide fuel for discussions about diversity in the city.

The city’s elected officials are grappling with questions about how to ensure Decatur’s housing options can support mix of incomes. The city’s police officers have also been accused of racial profiling.

Decatur City Commissioners got a glimpse of that report during their Aug. 4 meeting. The city hired intern Christian Perry, a Decatur High graduate who is working toward a master’s in public administration at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, to study the city’s population trends.

Perry presented some of his findings during the commission meeting. Among his conclusions:

– Whites accounted for 60 percent of the city’s population in 1990, while blacks accounted for almost 40 percent. According to the 2010 census, about 73 percent of the city’s population was white and 20 percent was black. The remainder of the population was non-black minority, which includes Hispanics.

– In 1990, the overwhelming majority of the city’s black population – almost 4,000 residents – was in Oakhurst. There were less than 1,000 whites living in Oakhurst as of the 1990 census. In 2010, whites were the overwhelming majority in Oakurst, accounting for more than 2,500 residents. There were about 1,500 blacks living in Oakhurst in 2010.

– Decatur’s white population increased overall from 1990 to 2010, while the Atlanta metro area’s white population decreased. Metro Atlanta’s white population decreased from more than 70 percent in 1990 to about 55 percent in 2010. Decatur’s white population was 60 percent in 1990 and about 73 percent in 2010. The black population in the Atlanta metro area grew from about 25 percent in 1990 to more than 30 percent in 2010. Decatur’s black population made up about 40 percent of the city’s population in 1990 and declined to 20 percent in 2010.

– As of 2010, more than 70 percent of the Decatur’s population of children younger than 5 years old was white. In 1990, it was about 50/50 between whites and blacks. About one in five Decatur residents is black, and one in three Decatur residents age 65 and older is black, Perry said.

– Decatur’s population of same sex households is four times the national average. In 2010, 3.5 percent of the city’s households were same sex, compared with less than one percent nationally. Male same sex households accounted for a little more than 1 percent of households in Decatur. Female same sex households accounted for more than 2 percent.

– From 2000 to 2010, median household income for white households in Decatur increased by a little less than 10 percent, and decreased by more than 50 percent for black households. The contrast is especially sharp in Oakhurst. White household income in Oakhurst rose by almost 30 percent, while black household income dropped by almost 40 percent.

City spokeswoman Casie Yoder said the full written report is being finalized and will be released later this month. She also told the commission that more data is needed to get a better picture of what’s going on. She said it would be helpful to have data on event attendance in the city and some more detailed demographic data on city staff. She said the city would also like more data on its residents’ occupations.

To download Perry’s Power Point presentation from the Aug. 4 meeting, click this link: Diversity Research Project Work Session_08.04.14

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

  • Decaturgal

    This is not news at all. I’m afraid that this ship has already sailed, and it did so soon after the 2003 reconfiguration. This is market forces at work and is largely the unintended consequences of having a kick butt superintendent, school board and staff at CSD. The massive crowding of Decatur schools and the demographic changes go hand in hand… I wish this trend could be remedied, but I don’t see a feasible/constitutional way to counter the massive market pressure around here.

    • Long Timer

      Actually, it was well-understood what was going to happen with the demographics back in 2003. It was brought up many times at the public meetings that the reconfiguration as proposed was going to decrease diversity over the long run. One proposed alternative was magnet schools. That might have preserved diversity longer. But the market trend to gentrification started before the reconfiguration. Folks were already buying the cheap south side real estate as an investment, knowing that values would rise. The reconfiguration just increased the rate at which they rose. The good news is that school quality was equalized across the system. The bad news is that the community that was supposed to benefit is no longer there.

  • underscorex

    So where did all the black residents go?

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